Heads up, I feel like this is going to be a beefy one. I’ve decided to merge 2 blog posts together for this one. So for today’s post, I’m going to talk you through Marlborough: the wine region of New Zealand and Kaikoura: home to all things whale watching. So take a seat, grab a tea, it’s going to be a biggen.
Picking up where we left off on Mondays post, if you missed it then check it out >> HERE <<, we survived a very peaceful 3.5 hour ferry crossing and landed in Picton on the South Island. We drove for about 30 minutes to an area called Blenheim before pulling into the stunning Saint Clair vineyards. A lot of you would recognise the Saint Clair labels, they’re very successful and especially if you’re from New Zealand, supply a lot of places all around the country. I’ve always wanted to go wine tasting so where better to do it than the wine region of New Zealand, Marlborough.
Genuinely the experience here was incredible. We had a great guy show us all the wines and talk through each and every one we tried. He recommended some great ones, we tried some not so great ones and a few hundred dollars later, we walked out of there with four bottles of wine and a (not so) better understanding of wine. What an experience to have and at a place like Saint Clair, you really can’t go wrong. I’ll leave the link >> HERE << if you’re wanting to check it out for yourself.
Then it was time to make the 2 hour drive south, along the east coast down into Kaikoura. Famous for once being a whaling town, but now turned into a whale watching hot spot, Kaikoura is a quaint little town on the South Island. En route to Kaikoura, we spotted about a million seals just chilling on the beach, to the side of the road. Never in my life have I seen this many seals in the wild. Definitely a moment to remember. We pulled up to our accomodation, took a look out the window and all we had in front of us was this incredible snow capped mountain. We stayed here for the night, before waking up at the crack of dawn and heading to the beach, to check-in for our whale watching expedition. We used the company Whale Watching NZ, which I’ve linked up for you. Honestly, they were so great from start to finish and would highly recommend them to anyone… #NotSpon.
We had our induction meeting to begin with, followed by a sea sickness warning before it was time to board the bus to take us down to the vessel. All aboard, it was time to head out to sea. A low layer of cloud was just lifting as we head out, making for this pretty stunning image below. The mountains really didn’t look real.
Seeing a whale in the wild has always been a dream of mine. It’s not every day to get to see a real life animal that magnificent. We had a (pretty cute) and very informative narrator on the boat, talking us through how the ocean system works in this part of the world, the animals we could potentially see and how they track the whales. Luckily they use absolutely zero invasive forms of tracking these whales. They simply use a microphone at the bottom of the boat. We spent about 30 minutes heading out to sea before stopping for a group of Albatross. We took pictures and moved on before finally finding a sperm whale. We hung around for a bit, watching him dive and then moved on. Although you only get to see a small part of the whale, the bits you do see are still so magical. It still blows my mind to think of such huge animals just swimming around in the ocean.
With all that said, this is the reality of whale watching. You only ever get to see this much of the whale. After all, it’s not a David Attenborough documentary. With Whale Watch NZ, they have a 95% success rate of seeing whales and if you don’t, they give you 80% of your money back. So it’s in their best interest to make sure you see a whale. That’s why when one boat spots one, they radio to the other 2 boats on the water to come around and take a look… making the whole experience that little less special. When it’s just you and the whale, it can be quite magical but the reality of it looks something like the above picture. 2 more boats came heading over and pulled right into our line of sight. We’re all desperate to see the whales so every boat is going to try and position themselves in the best way possible… I can only imagine what the whale is thinking.
Overall it was such a special experience, to see such a giant animal in the wild. If you’re going to do it yourself, prepare yourself with sickness tablets. There’s a lot of motion when on the boats and a good 60% of our boat were throwing up… luckily for us, we don’t suffer with motion sickness. Definitely an experience worth looking into and even though it was slightly spoiled by the other boats, it was still a magical day on the water.
| By Harrison |